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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spiral - Review

I forgot to do an anime post, so here's one of Spiral (which my avatar is based off of).

Spiral is an anime based off a manga (I assume this can be implied by now) of the same name. The story revolves around Ayumu Narumi trying to figure out the link between his older brother, Kiyotaka Narumi, who disappeared two years ago and a group of people known as the "Blade Children." Existing throughout the world, the Blade Children, are those who will stop at nothing to achieve their destiny. While their presence is minute, there are those who shun them for who they are.

This is a 26 episoder with a plot line that uses mystery and logic to progress the story. (Bad analogy ahead) To make it simple, I would call Spiral a "Detective Conan with a solid storyline and character development. It's what Detective Conan should have been." The style of mystery used has that progression of accident/mystery --> investigation --> Conclusion/Solution. It's not a bad way to do it, but it's definitely something that's been done before. I always liked just watching an episode through just to go, "Oooh" or "Now I get it" at the end. In all honesty, it's not a technique I'm fond of, but it works. I mean... Look what happened to Death Note...

There's a good amount of character development for each individual character. The problem is, how the the story and the characters are affected as a whole. There's no meaning behind why they were called "Blade Children" and you're still left wondering what happened to Ayumu's brother. It's for the better that they didn't answer all the questions, but I thought the Blade Children thing was very important. I'm a person that's willing to simply go along with a story just so as long as the writers can wrap it up together, the problem is occasionally there were holes that didn't work too well.

Every character had a solid personality, which is what I loved the most. At first, you think Ayumu is just a "typical" delinquint/slacker archetype, but as you see later on. He actually works really hard. It's not like one of those typical, "works when he has to" types, he has certain triggers that seem to change his thought process. Then, each of the Blade Children are from around the world, each with their own reason as to why they should interact with the "Little Narumi." You also see the relationship between Ayumu and his sister-in-law, Madoka. It's very obvious that they're willing to have a relationship, but you can also see the very fine lines that could easily break it as well.

Rather than talking about the animation, which shows quality, but nothing spectacular, I want to talk about the direction in this anime. The director mixes up the style of mystery he uses throughout the series, which to some may show an inconsistent plot line, but to me shows work. There are parts where, if you were to use a certain style for that scenario, it wouldn't work. The use of humor was also very well done. It ranged from subtle to very blatant depending on how the story was progressing, and my only wish was that there was more of it. At points, there seemed to be too much tension, that a little quick snip may have worked. But I greatly appreciated the subtle humor used as I don't see that as often anymore. What's great about it is how it uses a peculiar quirk of a character to stand out.

Voice acting was generally solid, and American voice acting was generally off. 14 year olds sound like they're 20. 18 year olds sound like their 30, and the others sound like they're 7 years younger... What's even better? There's VA commentary in which they thought they did an AWESOME job. NO joke. I watched the DVDs and looked over the extra features... There were commentaries from the voice actors and they honestly thought they were doing an amazing job. I thought Ayumu was done well, but the other characters were so pompous. It then really makes me realize as to why the American industry has such a hard time getting quality dubs out. Yes, it was interesting to see the insight into what went on in the studio, but it was a bad insight. I didn't want to see that. Or rather, I didn't want to confirm my doubts...

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